Alaska/Pacific Coast

West Coast fishery managers days away from landmark decision on forage fish
The Oregonian/Oregon Live by Kelly House – March 05, 2015
West coast fishery managers are poised to make a decision next week that could alter the future of fishing in federal waters off the Pacific Coast, as well as in Oregon’s state-regulated nearshore waters.
http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/03/west_coast_fishery_managers_da.html

 

Fishermen’s Finest Calls for EIS in Bering Sea Halibut Bycatch Cutbacks; NMFS Says No New EIS Needed
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker March 5, 2015
Fishermen’s Finest, a member of the Amendment 80 groundfish fleet in the Bering Sea, has called for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to complete an Environmental Impact before deciding to reduce halibut bycatch caps in that area.

Fishermen’s Finest CEO Dennis Moran said in his letter, “The Council’s reliance on an EA (Economic Analysis) rather than an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) for this action has been questionable at best, but there is now no question that an EIS is required with the addition of alternatives that contemplate 35% to 50% reductions in halibut PSC across sectors.”

Moran’s letter was sent February 20 to Dan Hull, chairman of the Council, and Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator for NMFS in Juneau, AK.

Merrill responded on Tuesday that the process for considering an EIS is to first prepare an Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/RIR/IRFA), which is underway. Once the Council has reviewed the EA, they will then be able to determine if an EIS is needed, or if the EA provides a finding of no significant impact.

The initial draft of an EA on the impacts of reducing halibut bycatch caps in the Bering Sea was presented to the Council at their February meeting in Seattle. The Council sent the document back to staff to include more areas of potential impact, such as fleet behavior as a result of further bycatch cuts. The revised EA will be reviewed by the Council in June.

However, in the federal register notice published today laying out all the BSAI harvest specifications for 2015, NMFS said in response to a comment that in their view, no new EIS was needed to address halibut bycatch.

Their reasons were, first, that the IPHC already takes into account total system wide halibut mortality, including prohibited species catch, in setting halibut harvest limits.  As a result, there has not been an environmentally significant change in how harvests are calculated.

Secondly, NMFS says that the 2007 EIS, which looks at the impact of all harvest removals in the Bering Sea, is adaquate to address impacts of the halibut biomass falling by 50%, and that no new environmental impact statement is needed.

They say “NMFS determined that (1) the 2015/2016 harvest specifications, which were set according to the preferred harvest strategy described in the 2007 EIS, do not constitute a change in the action; and (2) the information presented does not indicate that there are significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts. Additionally, the 2015/2016 harvest specifications will result in environmental impacts within the scope of those analyzed and disclosed in the EIS. Therefore, supplemental NEPA documentation is not necessary to implement the 2015/2016 harvest specifications.”

Based in Kirkland, WA, Fishermen’s Finest manages two catcher processors, American No. 1 and U.S. Intrepid that produce headed-and-gutted (H&G) flatfish, rockfish, and Pacific cod products. The firm was founded by Helena Park in 1986.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/966730/Fishermens-Finest-Calls-for-EIS-in-Bering-Sea-Halibut-Bycatch-Cutbacks-NMFS-Says-No-New-EIS-Needed

 

Pacific Fishery Management Council Preparing Ocean Salmon Fishing Options
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Columbian] Mach 6, 2015
Options for salmon fishing off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and northern California will be developed beginning Sunday when the Pacific Fishery Management Council begins a five-day meeting in Vancouver.

The event will be at the Hilton Vancouver Hotel, 301 W. Sixth St.

Three options for ocean salmon seasons are scheduled to be adopted for public review on the morning of March 12.

Other topics on the agenda include incidental catch recommendations for halibut in salmon troll fisheries, protection of unmanaged forage fish species and adoption of goals and objectives for a drift gillnet management and monitoring plan.

Sport and commercial fishermen met Monday in Olympia to discuss the upcoming PFMC meeting.

The need to limit harvest in the ocean of a weak stock of wild coho salmon destined for the Queets River on the Olympic Peninsula is likely to reduce fishing seasons in 2015.

Only 7,500 Queets River wild coho are forecast for 2015, with the minimum spawning escapement is set at 5,800.

Phil Anderson, a special assistant for state wildlife director Jim Unsworth, said on Monday fishing reductions off Southeast Alaska and British Columbia look likely and may make chinook stocks more plentiful off the Washington coast.

A discussion of Columbia River summer and fall salmon fishing issues will begin at 10 a.m. March 16 at the Hilton in Vancouver.

The PFMC will meeting April 11 to 16 in Rohnert Park, Calif., to adopt the final ocean salmon seasons.

Washington and Oregon will announce the specific of the Columbia River summer and fall seasons at the conclusion of the PFMC April session.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/966850/Pacific-Fishery-Management-Council-Preparing-Ocean-Salmon-Fishing-Options

 

 

Politics

Board of Fish adds mop-up to Southeast king troll season
KCAW by Rachel Waldholz – March 4, 2015
The Alaska Board of Fisheries on Monday (3-2-15) took up a pair of proposals to reshape the king salmon troll season in Southeast Alaska.
http://www.kcaw.org/2015/03/04/board-of-fish-adds-mop-up-to-southeast-king-troll-season/

 

UFA Rallies to Defend Fisheries During State Budget Cuts
Fishermen News – March 4, 2015
Falling oil prices are forcing Alaska’s government to make deep budget cuts in all state agencies, and state legislators this week are holding public hearings to gather testimony from Alaska residents on where to make those cuts.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2015/03/ufa-rallies-to-defend-fisheries-during.html

 

 

Environment/Science

U.S. stores say no to genetically engineered salmon. Someone has to.
LA Times by Karin Klein – March 3, 2015
The nation’s two largest conventional grocery chains, Kroger and Safeway, have announced that they will not sell genetically engineered salmon. They join several other chains, including Target, Whole Foods (of course) and Trader Joe’s. Now let’s hope the holdouts, such as Costco, do the same.
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-gmo-salmon-20140303-story.html

 

 

Labeling and Marketing

ASMI issues newsy marketing update
ASMI – March 2015
ASMI strives to better communicate with the owners of the Alaska Seafood brand: the hardworking fishermen. Starting this year, ASMI will be producing an annual Fleet Newsletter which summarizes ASMI’s marketing activities over the course of the year. Check your mail boxes for the first edition of Wheel Watch: ASMI Report to the Fleet.
http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=bcd6d5bec392f12ce703f7e00&id=7de283e461&e=eb00f7076f

 

 

FYI’s

Free safety workshop for commercial fishermen
Juneau Empire – March 6, 2015
The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association will offer a Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor Workshop from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 28 at the University of Alaska Southeast Technical Education Center, in Juneau.
http://juneauempire.com/outdoors/2015-03-06/free-safety-workshop-commercial-fishermen

 

GAO Finds FDA’s Foreign Food Facility Inspections Fall Far Short of FSMA Requirement
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Food Product Design] By Josh Long- March 6, 2015 –
Americans often chow down on food that comes from outside the United States. Yet the federal agency that is chiefly responsible for the safety of the nation’s grub is conducting far fewer inspections of foreign facilities than the law requires, according to a January 2015 government report.

In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted 1,323 inspections of foreign food facilities. That’s just 28 percent of the number required (4,800) by the 4-year-old Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). FDA actually conducted more inspections the previous year (1,403).

“FDA has not completed plans for 2016,” the GAO said, “but officials expect the agency to complete about 1,200 foreign food inspections a year for the foreseeable future.”

FDA has cited the cost of inspections as the main reason for falling short of FSMA’s mandate. The agency has estimated the average cost of a foreign inspection is $23,600, compared to $15,500 for a domestic inspection.

FDA would have needed $113 million to complete the 4,800 inspections in FY14 that were required under the law, according to the GAO. The agency only received $138 million to implement all provisions of FSMA. FDA is notoriously underfunded and has struggled to meet a variety of deadlines under the sweeping law.

“FDA officials told us that, given limited funding, the agency determined that additional foreign inspections were not the best use of FSMA-related funds,” GAO reported. “FDA officials said they were focusing instead on technical assistance to the domestic and foreign food industry to help manufacturers comply with new FSMA rules, as well as training for FDA investigators and other agency staff to modernize FDA’s food inspection program.”

FDA has foreign offices scattered throughout the world from London and Brussels, Belgium to Pretoria, South Africa and Beijing and Guangzhou, China. The offices have pitched in to help FDA with inspections of foreign facilities, conducting 140 total inspections in FY14, the GAO said.

Other than overseeing domestic and imported meat, poultry and processed egg products—the territory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—FDA is chiefly responsible for ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply. That includes various imported foods, which as a percentage of total food consumed in the United States has risen from 9 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2011, according to the GAO.

The National Marine Fisheries Service reported that 91 percent of seafood eaten in the U.S. was imported in 2011. In that same year, U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables surpassed $18 billion, according to a 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service.

But FDA only inspects a fraction of imported foods. For instance, in FY12, the agency physically examined just 1.9 percent of food import lines, according to a November 2013 report to Congress.

“It is important to note that while FDA is not able to physically inspect a large percentage of food entries, all import entries are electronically screened using an automated system, which helps field inspectors determine which products pose the greatest risk and, therefore, should be physically examined,” the agency explained.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/966841/GAO-Finds-FDAs-Foreign-Food-Facility-Inspections-Fall-Far-Short-of-FSMA-Requirement

 

Old Arctic Sea Ice has Virtually Disappeared in Last 27 years
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – March 6, 2015
A video annimation released by NOAA tracks the loss of older – 9 years or more – arctic sea ice between 1987 and 2014. The video is a time lapse of the ice cap over each year, showing the retreat and disappearance of old ice, to be replaced by thin seasonal ice.

Decades ago, the majority of the Arctic’s winter ice pack was made up of thick, perennial ice. Today, very old ice is extremely rare. This animation tracks the relative amount of ice of different ages from 1987 through early November 2014.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDRnH48LvhQ
Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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March 6, 2015